November 2021

Apple and iOS news

As had been rumored, Apple held an October event announcing: new Macbook Pro laptops, new colored Homepod Minis, and new AirPods.

As of Nov 1, new Homepod Minis are available.

As the holiday season is approaching fast, Apple announced Returns & Refunds policy: ` Holiday Return Policy Items purchased at the Apple Online Store that are received between November 1, 2021 and December 25, 2021, may be returned through January 8, 2022.`

All Default Mac Wallpapers available for download on any device. Enjoy.

iOS 15 tips

If you get a new device or if you upgrade your current device to iOS 15, there are a few settings worth confirming or updating if needed, and if they apply to you:

Ensure your Search engine is the one you want. The default choice is Google but many people prefer Duck Duck Go for privacy.

If you got a new iPhone, ensure your location is shared with the people you want and from your new iPhone.

After upgrading to iOS 15, ensure that Settings > Privacy reflect your previous preference re: Allow Apps to Request to Track You.

Also, it's a good idea to review your Settings > Privacy . Location Services for each of your apps. Be sure you review and choose the lowest permission your prefer.

Take advantage of Background Sounds, a new feature of iOS 15 for all devices. It's buried inside Settings but it's very nice to have. However, you can also make it easily accessible via Control Center.

Be sure you try out Live Text, it's one of the new great features of iOS 15 and you will probably use it a lot after you become familiar with it.

With iOS 15, Focus Mode options provide many ways to customize `do not disturb' features and tailor them to your needs and preferences. It's worth taking the time to learn these.

With iOS 15, Safari has new features, including a new location for the URL at the bottom (by default but is customizable). Safari also offers a private browsing option. With iOS 15.1 on iPad, Safari tabs look the same as they did in iOS 14.x.

If you are an iCloud+ user, consider using Private Relay.

Private Relay is in public beta state currently. Here is another perspective: How to turn off Private Relay in iOS 15 - and why you might want to.

If you are an iCloud+ user, consider using Hide My Email options. Apple's description: `With an iCloud+ subscription, you can generate unique, random addresses from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 or later in any email field in Safari. You can also generate email addresses on-demand in the Settings app.'

And iOS 15.1, just released a few days ago, has brought a number of new features.

New FaceTime features with iOS 15.1, including some significant ones that were announced in June: SharePlay, share your screen, create a FaceTime link (for anyone, including those pesky Android users!), Spacial Audio, Grid view, and more.

Apple Fitness+

Apple Fitness+ has expanded with iOS 15 to include more workouts.

With iOS 15.1, Apple Fitness+ users can now work out or meditate together from different locations with the power of SharePlay.

Apple lists all the equipment used in Fitness+ exercise classes.

iOS apps

Audiblogs is now becoming a real app, try for free for 7 days, and then subscribe if you wish, for $5/mo, cancel any time. iOS is in beta. Can use a web browser on iOS and save the shortcut (bookmark) on your iOS homescreen. It works well. It converts any article or PDF text into an audio file you can play like a podcast. It works well and you can listen while you drive or cook or exercise.

Re-open EU is a free iOS app. `Re-open EU provides information on the various national restrictions in place, including on quarantine and testing requirements for travellers and mobile contact tracing and warning apps across Europe. This EU app also provides an overview of the health situation in European countries, based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). '

iMazing is a 3rd party iOS manager for your mac or PC.

TextSniper is a macOS utility that lets you grab a screenshot of text and immediately OCRs it and places the text in your clipboard. It is like the new `Live text' feature introduced with iOS 15. is a very useful web-based search engine specifically for podcasts. For example, if you are a fan of a book author, you can search the author's name to find all podcast interviews or any other podcast episodes that relate to this author.


Kara Swisher's Sway episode interview of Walt Mossberg is a must-listen for all who are interested in technology, Apple, and more:

`After leaked internal documents in The Wall Street Journal, whistle-blower testimony on Capitol Hill, a global server outage and drops in share price, Facebook has recently taken (another) spectacular beating. But the veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg says none of it has been a surprise. A longtime friend and mentor of Kara Swisher, he tells her, “I think the company is fundamentally unethical.” And, drawing on his experience covering controversial leaders, including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (as he calls them, “the old guard”), Mossberg says the Facebook C.E.O. is still an aberration: “In my encounters with Mark Zuckerberg, I’ve never been able to discover any principles.`

Listen here: Walt Mossberg's Take on Mark Zuckerberg and More.

The Oct 20 podcast episode of `In the Bubble' has breaking news about a new nationwide digital vaccine verification initiative to be formally announced next week. Andy talks with the system's architect, Paul Meyer, and California's Chief Technology Innovation Officer, Rick Klau. They discuss why the federal government isn't creating its own verification system, how Californians have responded to the state's Digital Vaccine Record, and where you can get a digital record of your COVID-19 vaccine status right now. Listen to the podcast episode.

Smart Health cards are supported by iOS 15.1 in Apple Wallet.

Also, businesses have started to use the Smart Card standard. For example, IBM employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Dec 8 (or go on unpaid leave). IBM has created an app for easy and fast validation.

Learn more about Smart Health Cards. Additional links provided on the podcast show notes (podcast link above).

tips & tricks

Alexis shared a very nice tip: `If you are ever lost while hiking, encounter a severe storm, or get stranded with a broken down car, etc and you notice your cell phone is getting low on juice, here is a tip that very well may save your life. Change the voicemail on your phone to a message that gives your approximate location, the time, the date, your situation (lost, out of gas, car broken down, injured, etc) and any special instructions such as you are staying with the car, you are walking toward a town, etc.... The best part of this is that even if your cell phone dies or stops working, voicemail still works, so anyone calling your phone looking for you will hear the message and know where to find you or where to send help.'

It's worth noting that this applies to anyone and everyone, not only iOS users. Naturally, it assumes that you have at least some access to cell service in order to modify and update your voice mail.

If you are in a remote location where cell coverage is limited or spotty, another option is to send your location to at least one friend or family member. This takes advantage of iOS features (iPhone or Apple Watch) and uses less data than a voicemail audio message.

gadgets & accessories

Best HomeKit video doorbells 2021, and overview by iMore.

Among the doorbells listed above is the Logitech Cicle View, which is available at Apple stores as well as many other retailers. Shane Whatley offers a video review:

The Logitech offers HomeKit secure video, in addition to being Homekit compatible. Here is a refresher on the differences, by Shane Whatley:

and here is an overview of HomeKit Secure Video, by iMore.

A few years ago, Canary security camera announced it would support Homekit. However, this has not yet happened. Perhaps it is not surprising that Canary has recently notified users that it will remove features from its basic & free service, including automatic person detection & notifications. This will go into effect in jan 2022. Apple's Homekit secure video offering is arguably competing with Canary's business model.


Can Apple Watch save your life?, asks the Dr. Epstein, writing for the NY Times, reporting on his healthy 87-year old mother who got a recommendation: `call your doctor'. This led to a life-saving heart surgery. The article is also filled with many reader comments reporting how Apple Watch helped them.

Some examples from readers comments:

`As a practicing Cardiologist who sees 150 patients a week, I routinely recommend the Apple Watch to patients with palpitations in whom a cause cannot be found with routine monitoring. The monitors can only be used for 28 days and people frequently do not have symptoms during the monitoring period. The ECG obtained on the Apple Watch are generally of excellent quality and the patient can email me a PDF of an abnormal recording.'

`Yes, my Apple watch saved my life. Not by the cardiac monitor, but by its fall detection. My watch is an extension of my phone (an extra $10 a month). When I missed my step and fell from a friend's porch onto the sidewalk, I struck my head and lost consciousness. My Apple watch detected the fall, and when I didn't respond it notified my emergency contacts and called an ambulance. When I regained consciousness my friend was still wondering what to do and the ambulance was already pulling up. By the time I got to the ER my family was also en route. I survived a serious head injury that can disable and kill. It's been a hard year for all of us but I feel blessed to have regained what I'd lost, to be alive and walking and able to care for myself in my own home. I am forever grateful to Apple and the world of people who cross my path every day.`

`Three years ago the Apple Watch detected a serious congenital heart condition in my then 31 year old sister. The doctors said she needed surgery quite urgently and according to them the Apple Watch saved her life. It may be worth for a bunch to go through extra testing If it eases their mind so that a few can be saved.`

`As a 60 year old, avid horse person - who has 14 horses on our breeding farm. I recently got hit in the face by a young colt who reared up. which knocked out and broke teeth. I did not go down, but took a good knock to the head. My iphone watch with cellular, immediately asked if 911 needed to be called. Not the first time, I have taken a fall and had it ask to call 911. This thing is a lifesaver for those of us in dangerous sports and professions.'

`As a former endurance sports person with a Fitbit, I found it useful for watching fluctuations in resting heart rate as an over training indicator and still do as I push 60 years old. My rate these days is mid-50s but drops into the 40s at night. I can easily tell if I had an extra glass of wine or too much caffeine, as my rate goes into the 60s. For almost a year, I was experiencing shortness of breath when I exercised, but my resting rate was only slightly elevated, still under 60...I finally went to the doc, got ekg and stress test...all normal. What I didn’t mention to them was I was experiencing calf pain and tightness, a muscle pull (I thought) that wouldn’t go away...well recently, my resting rate went into the mid 60s, I could see it going up daily over a week pushing close to 70...the leg pain got worst along with it, and my shortness of breath got worst where I could hardly walk up stairs. Reading online, these were symptoms of a DVT and pulmonary embolism so went to emergency room...yes, they confirmed I had a major clot in the leg. Now I’m on blood thinners, everything is back to normal. I’m a believer in these devices, it was the additional data that convinced me to go to the emergency room.'

`I was felled by a stroke (later neutralized) and absent an Apple watch had no way of seeking help. This watch sends out an alarm and location. Astounded this wasn’t mentioned in the piece.'`

`I'm very grateful for my Apple Watch. I’ve had occasional heart arrhythmia for my whole life but last year it seemed to be getting significantly worse. I contacted my doctor who ordered in-office EKG, echocardiogram and 24 hour holter monitor. All showed nothing. Then I had some arrhythmic episodes at home and while out exercising and managed to record them with my watch. I sent the results to my doctor who said they clearly showed episodes of afib. Easily managed with a fairly low dose of medication, it’s now a non-issue for me.`

`The Apple Watch saved my life! I tripped while walking in the early morning with no one nearby, knocked myself unconscious, bleeding heavily from face wounds. I woke in an ambulance and asked the EMTs what happened. They told me my watch called 911, gave my location. They said I would have died from blood loss if I hadn't been wearing the watch.`

general apps & services

As the holiday season is approaching, printing services become more popular, for cards, gifts, photo books, and the like. There are many excellent choices. Olga has often used Artifact Uprising and recommends it.

next iPUG meeting

Our next iPUG meeting is December 7, 2021. Happy Thanksgiving to all!